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UNITED STATES STEEL CORP. v. UMW

March 13, 1975

UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA et al., Defendants (two cases)


Rosenberg, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROSENBERG

The plaintiff, United States Steel Corporation, operates Maple Creek No. 1 and No. 2 mines in Washington County within the Western District of Pennsylvania. The labor relations are fixed between the defendants the International Union, United Mine Workers of America, the District Union, District No. 5, and the Local Union No. 1248 by an Agreement dated December 6, 1974 to December 6, 1977. It is from the Local Union No. 1248 that the Maple Creek mine complex draws its employees.

 Coal extracted from these mines is classified as bituminous high volatile metallurgical coal known by the term "Pittsburgh Seam" having certain high quality properties necessary in the production of coke at the plaintiff's Clairton coke works. From there this coke is distributed throughout the Monongahela River Valley to the plaintiff's steel manufacturing mills.

 On February 12, 1975, commencing with the midnight shift, 12:01 a.m., the employees demonstrated a collective and concerted refusal to go to work over a dispute with the plaintiff involving a demand to have a permanent, as opposed to a roving, security guard placed at the employee parking lots of both mines. This dispute was precipitated by a theft of an employee's truck from one of the parking lots on the prior day. Later that same day at 3:33 p.m., I issued a temporary restraining order (Civil Action No. 75-200) directing the local union defendant to cease the work stoppage and return to work at the plaintiff's mines and to exercise all rights for settlement of the dispute in accordance with the Agreement. Proof of service was filed and it shows that the defendant Local 1248 was properly served on February 13, 1975 at 10:33 a. m. The defendant Local did not return to work until February 14th, after I issued a civil contempt citation, holding it in abeyance if the Local purged itself of contempt by going to work forthwith. Some men of the Local finally returned to work on February 14th on the 4:00 p. m. shift.

 On February 24th, the employees of the Maple Creek preparation plant, which cleans and prepares coal for distribution, demonstrated a collective and concerted refusal to work on the 12:01 a. m. shift over a dispute which dealt with the members of the Local working along side a fellow union worker who had worked at the mine during the December 1974 work stoppage. Because the preparation plant had closed down for that shift, it became impossible for both Maple Creek No. 1 and No. 2 mines to operate on the following 8:00 a. m. shift. The mining of coal at Maple Creek is one continuous process and once there is a breakdown in one link of the process, the other links, particularly those that mine the coal, are adversely affected. Work resumed at both mines on February 24th on the 4:00 p. m. shift when the preparation plant resumed work.

 On February 25th, the employees working at Maple Creek No. 1 mine, on the 12:01 a. m. shift, again refused to go to work because of a dispute over a job assignment. While the employees at the preparation plant and Maple Creek mine No. 2 did work that shift, they subsequently walked off the job on the 8:00 a. m. shift on the same day.

 On February 24th, at 3:08 p.m., I issued another temporary restraining order (Civil Action No. 75-235) which directed the defendant to cease work stoppages and resort to the grievance procedure of the Agreement. Proof of service was filed and it shows that the defendant Local was properly served on February 25th at 10:40 a. m. The membership finally returned to work pursuant to this Order.

 The issues presented can only be determined through the power given me by Congress as enacted under the provisions of § 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947, as amended. My function is to determine the rights of the parties involved under their contract of management and employment. General Warehousemen & Emp. Union No. 636 v. American Hardware Supply Co., 329 F.2d 789, C.A. 3, 1964, cert. den. 379 U.S. 829, 85 S. Ct. 57, 13 L. Ed. 2d 37; Local 368, United Federation of Engineers, International Union of Electric Radio & Machine Workers, AFL-CIO v. Western Electric, Inc., 359 F. Supp. 651 (D.C.N.J., 1973); Philadelphia Photo-Engraver's Union No. 7, I. P. E. U. of N. A. v. Parade Publications, Inc., 202 F. Supp. 685 (D.C.Pa.1962).

 Here the plaintiff and the defendants, as I stated, are controlled in their working relationships by the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement of December 6, 1974. Therein it is provided, inter alia, that the parties use grievance and arbitration procedures to ensure continued production and peaceful settlement of disputes. Article XXVII of the Agreement provides for an exclusive remedy for resolving disputes between management and the union which states:

 
"The United Mine Workers of America and the Employers agree and affirm that, except as provided herein, they will maintain the integrity of this contract and that all disputes and claims which are not settled by agreement shall be settled by the machinery provided in the 'Settlement of Disputes' Article of this Agreement unless national in character in which event the parties shall settle such disputes by free collective bargaining as heretofore practiced in the industry, it being the purpose of this provision to provide for the settlement of all such disputes and claims through the machinery in this contract and by collective bargaining without recourse to the courts.
 
The Employer, however, expressly authorizes the Union to seek judicial relief, without exhausting the grievance machinery, in cases involving successorship."

 The Agreement as a whole concerns itself directly with three processes for a grievant: (1) health and safety procedure of Article III, § p; (2) general grievance and disputes procedure of Article XXIII; and (3) the employee discharge procedure of Article XXIV.

 As relates to the general disputes, Article XXIII includes five steps which lead to a final determination by which the parties are to be bound. At the first step, the employee merely makes a complaint to his own foreman. If not settled there, the second step requires the grievant to complain to the Mine Committee which meets with management within seven working days and there it is reduced to a writing on a grievance form. Step three is invoked if there still is no satisfaction and within the next seven days the grievance must be referred to the designated District Representative who meets with a representative of management. If no settlement is had at this level then step four is invoked requiring the grievance, within ten calendar days, to be referred to a special arbitration panel. Step five thereafter permits an appeal to an Arbitration Appeal Board. It is, therefore, obvious that the subscribers to the Agreement, whether management or union, must conform with the grievance process for a final determination of the disputes.

 The settlement of the grievances, no matter what they are, remains exclusively and finally within the functioning of both management and labor in accordance with the Agreement. Thus, it is that a dispute of whether or not a parking lot needs more protection or whether or not membership might venture to work alongside another member of the union who had disregarded a previous work stoppage, are matters in which the word "dispute" is predominately an observable fact. As ...


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